The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle
A Novel

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He is at best ambivalent on whether there is any method to the Terranauts’ madness, and his ambivalence becomes less a point of subtlety than a hole in the middle of the novel.
-LA Times

Synopsis

A deep-dive into human behavior in an epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, from one of the greatest American novelists today, T. C. Boyle, the acclaimed, bestselling, author of the PEN/ Faulkner Award–winning World’s End and The Harder They Come.

It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the "Terranauts," have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh—and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them.

Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.—"God the Creator"—for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2’s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere’s seal to be broken—and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: "Nothing in, nothing out," becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.

Told through three distinct narrators—Dawn Chapman, the mission’s pretty, young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2’s sexually irrepressible Wildman—The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T.C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself.

 

About T.C. Boyle

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T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.
 
Published October 25, 2016 by Ecco. 528 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Terranauts
All: 4 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles on Nov 11 2016

For this reader, the answer tilted less toward sexy and more toward whatever. There’s erotic potential anywhere humans are stranded or sequestered: the Downton Abbey estate, a remote scientific base camp, Gilligan’s Island. The overlay of glass, steel and messianic zeal doesn’t necessarily heighten the sexual tension...

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Jason Heller on Oct 25 2016

...The Terranauts runs the risk of being formulaic. It also lapses into Boyle's trademark, sometimes maddening style, teeming with tangential inner monologues and hyperaware descriptiveness. They turn the novel's early, exposition-heavy chapters into an uphill climb...

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Jackie Thomas-Kennedy on Nov 04 2016

Boyle's prose is gleefully perceptive — how swiftly these Terranauts, who claim dedication to their mission, default to the language of captives.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michelle Dean on Oct 28 2016

He is at best ambivalent on whether there is any method to the Terranauts’ madness, and his ambivalence becomes less a point of subtlety than a hole in the middle of the novel.

Read Full Review of The Terranauts: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

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